Mark Mitchell, Staff Writer
“Pioneer” means to be the first to explore something new. The word itself speaks volumes, and the athletes at Utica College take pride in what they do, whether it includes performing on the field or excelling in the classroom.
The athletes at UC are honored to be able to wear the colors of the school when they go out on the field to play. For many athletes, it’s not just a win that makes them proud, it’s that they get to play the sport they love while representing the school they adore.
Senior Rylee Meelan, who is from Clinton and has played field hockey for a long time, feels a sense of accomplishment when she takes the field for Utica College.
“Being a Pioneer is everything to me,” she said. “It means I represent this school with pride every single time I put on my jersey and step out on the field. I have learned to play with dignity and heart every game.”
Football at Utica College is not just another sport that is played every Saturday afternoon or night. The program is lead by head coach Blaise Faggiano, who believes being a Pioneer is more then just playing for a large crowd on an autumn afternoon.
“What it means to be a Pioneer is to do something for the first time, to be the first, to make history,” Faggiano said. “Utica College is a cornerstone of this community here in Utica, and we just happen to be apart of it.”
Being a Pioneer does not just mean being a part of a team on campus and getting good grades, it means being a part of a community and helping it grow into something that is positive and welcoming.
“We have a ‘burning-of-the-shoe’ ceremony at the end of the season for all the seniors where they get to say anything they want, and it usually gets pretty emotional, but that is why we’re a family first,” Faggiano said.
The athletes and students at Utica College do not only carry book bags and coffees to class, they carry pride for the school and the people that are helping them become the men and women they want to be in the future.
Junior basketball player Hunter Remley is from New Jersey but found a new home in Utica.
“I am far from home, so being a part of the UC community has taught me a lot about family and being there for one another,” Remley said.
It doesn’t matter what walk of life Utica College student-athletes come from. What matters is where they are now, the school they’re representing and their family who they are playing side-by-side with.